April 23, 2003

Grass, Springsteen and Others Sound Off

  • Got the urge to watch a video? Here's one for you. But it's tough stuff, be warned. See "Liberation", by Eric Blumrich.
  • Gunter Grass, the German novelist, poet, playwright, sculptor, printmaker, author of The Tin Drum and Dog Years, was a literary spokesman for the German generation that grew up in the Nazi era. Grass was a member of Hitler Youth in the '30s, was drafted at age 16, and wounded in battle in 1945. Now Grass weighs in on today's nightmare politics in the US, in a piece called US betrays core values. "Disturbed and powerless, but also filled with anger, we are witnessing the moral decline of the world's only superpower," writes Grass, "burdened by the knowledge that only one consequence of this organized madness is certain: Motivation for more terrorism is being provided, for more violence and counter-violence. Is this really the United States of America, the country we fondly remember for any number of reasons? The generous benefactor of the Marshall Plan? The forbearing instructor in the lessons of democracy? The candid self-critic? The country that once made use of the teachings of the European Enlightenment to throw off its colonial masters and to provide itself with an exemplary constitution? Is this the country that made freedom of speech an incontrovertible human right?"
  • As in Afghanistan, now that the "war is over" in Iraq, the same thugs are going to be in power as before, with altered allegiances. See "Ba'athists slip back into control in Iraq".
  • Watch now as "liberation" morphs into occupation. See The Independent.
  • You know things have slid a long way out of control when Bruce Springsteen is moved to make a comment on politics on his website brucespringsteen.net. Bruce comes out in support of the Dixie Chicks, openly risking the wrath of the Clear Channel killer rednecks. Says Bruce: "The Dixie Chicks have taken a big hit lately for exercising their basic right to express themselves. To me, they're terrific American artists expressing American values by using their American right to free speech. For them to be banished wholesale from radio stations, and even entire radio networks, for speaking out is un-American. The pressure coming from the government and big business to enforce conformity of thought concerning the war and politics goes against everything that this country is about - namely freedom. Right now, we are supposedly fighting to create freedom in Iraq, at the same time that some are trying to intimidate and punish people for using that same freedom here at home."
  • And notably mild-mannered and apolitical Sir Paul McCartney has come out urging an end to the use of cluster bombs. "What happens after the war finishes is that it's the civilians - mainly women and children - who get blown up." See BBC.
  • In "A Nation Lost", James Carroll says, "Centered on coercive unilateralism, the new doctrine assumes that the United States not only stands apart from other countries but above them. The primitive tribalism of boys at football games -- 'We're number one!' -- has been transformed into an axiom of strategy. Military force has replaced democratic idealism as the main source of US influence ... Critics of the intended new Pax Americana should not hesitate to say that long-agreed ethical principles are being violated. It is wrong to break treaties, as the United States is doing in its treatment of POWs in Cuba. It is wrong to wage aggressive war, as the United States now openly does. To make decisions for or against such policies on supposedly pragmatic grounds is to break the crucial link between means and ends, as if an outcome (''regime change'') can justify whatever was done to accomplish it. In the long run, the only truly pragmatic act is the moral act."
  • See Rense.com for the scoop on how the Today Show turned up its music and drowned out Tim Robbins because he dared say, "The message is if you speak out against this administration you can and will be punished. We're sending out messages on an almost daily basis that they have no right to protest against this President." The Today Show decided to prove Robbins was right.
  • Here's a good analysis in Slate of a NY Times article lying not very discreetly about weapons of mass destruction.

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